By Aaron Allen | Seattle Medium | Word In Black
(WIB) – Childhood obesity is a growing concern, particularly among racial and ethnic minorities. According to the CDC, the prevalence of childhood obesity is significantly higher among American Indian and/or Native Alaskan (31.2%), non-Hispanic Black (20.8%), and Hispanic (22.0%) children compared to their white (15.9%) and Asian (12.8%) peers.
Various factors contribute to childhood obesity disparities, including community/environmental, cultural, family, and psychological factors in addition to socioeconomic status (SES). Psychological factors such as bullying, anxiety, and depression may also contribute to childhood obesity disparities.
Patrice Laster, a nurse practitioner and provider at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, emphasizes that multiple factors cause childhood obesity and that it could lead to other health issues and problems. Laster also notes that low-income families or underserved communities are impacted the most when it comes to lack of resources or access to healthier foods.
“First of all, obesity goes across all economic backgrounds,” says Laster. “But those who are in need the most are those who are in low-income communities or low resourced communities. Or household whose parents are limited in being able to help their children with this problem.”
“This is a big factor and there are multiple factors that causes obesity in children,” she continued. “If it is not controlled [obesity] could lead to other health issues and problems. As a professional and clinician, it seems to me it is increasing as national studies show. We have to find better ways of managing this whether through better policies, diet and exercise to help individuals with not only children but also the parents as well.”
At OBCC, health providers offer professionals and programs to help families navigate good eating habits, exercise, and positive mindsets regarding health. They have dieticians who can talk to families about their diets and offer MyPlate resources through the FDA that provide information on how a family can incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diets.
In the Puget Sound area there are plenty of programs and resources that are available to families to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Health, they say, “is the new wealth” and being health conscious is a lifestyle.
I think it is important to promote healthy lifestyles that can continue throughout your life.PATRICE LASTER, A NURSE PRACTITIONER AND PROVIDER AT ODESSA BROWN CHILDREN’S CLINIC
“There are food banks that offer healthy foods and if families are not sure how to prepare good healthy meals MyPlate offers different ways one can prepare their foods,” says Laster. “Also, the YMCA has a program Actively Changing Together (ACT) which is a 12-week program that teaches families how to prepare foods, making exercise a fun family activity. SNAP the federal food assistance program provides avenues and healthy food advice as well.”
Laster stresses that staying active throughout one’s life is important and can help combat the effects of diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. There are various programs and resources available to families to help maintain a healthy lifestyle in the area, including food banks that offer healthy foods, Actively Changing Together (ACT) programs offered by the YMCA, and SNAP, the federal food assistance program.
“When we talk about genetics, we can go to the extreme end like monitoring weight, creating bad habits that later can create eating disorders, I promote food should be healthy and fun and exercise, being active is one way to help combat the effects of things like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease,” Laster explains. “Yes, genetics is a component of it but being active and still promoting a good healthy diet and exercise is still one thing I promote no matter what.”
“Just staying active throughout your life so that you don’t get those medical problems later on in your life,” Laster adds. “I think it is important to promote healthy lifestyles that can continue throughout your life. I know sometimes it can be hard to get into a sport activity, an activity to promote exercise, but if we can start at a young age promoting exercise can be fun as a family thing like walking, riding a bike or even dancing in the living room for 30 minutes at time I think that’s important.”
Laster believes that promoting healthy lifestyles is crucial, and that it is important to make exercise and eating fun for children. She also notes that there is no such thing as bad food when eaten in moderation, and that it is essential to make food a nutritious and fun thing. It is okay to have foods in moderation, but it is not good for a child to have a whole pizza hut pizza in one sitting. It’s important to incorporate more plant-based food in your diet, find local farmer’s markets where you can get fresh produce, and talk to your primary care provider about resources.
“It’s ok to have pizza and ice cream but you can’t have pizza and ice cream every single night,” says Laster.
“There is no such thing as a bad food in moderation unless you are allergic to it, it tastes bad to you, calls you a bad name or it smells bad. Those are bad foods,” she added. “It is ok to have foods in moderation, but knowing it is not good for a child to have a whole pizza hut pizza in one setting, maybe one slice with salad, or getting more plant-based food in your diet, I think those are key things. Going to your primary care provider finding out where you can find local farmer’s markets where you can get fresh produce, MyPlate and SNAP provides resources where you can find such markets.”